(Above: "Cowboy Mouth.")
Submitted photos and information from Genesee Community College.
At Roz Steiner Gallery at Genesee Community College artist Nigel Maister's tight. word. lit. will be on display Oct. 1 - 31.
There's an Artist Talk at the gallery Oct. 10 at 12:30 p.m., with receptions at 1 and also 5 p.m.
tight. word. lit. -- Through the pairing of unrelated photographic images, Maister creates a narrative both implied and explicit and manifested in emotional, formal, aesthetic, intuitive and intellectual expression, and an evocation of action.
About Nigel Maister
He is a South African born, Rochester-based photographic artist, using found, appropriated and original imagery in his work.
His work has been a finalist in Klompching Gallery’s Fresh 2016 (New York), and seen, most recently, at Gallery Q (Rochester), Main Street Arts (Clifton Springs), and at the Cleveland Print Room.
A work from the series "tight. word. lit." as chosen by SaveArtSpace for public art exhibition during August 2018 on a billboard in the Neighborhood of the Arts in Rochester. He was a MacDowell Colony Fellow in 2018.
Maister is also a collector of 19th century and vernacular/functional photography, as well as a director, writer and designer of theater. He currently serves as the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director of the University of Rochester International Theatre Program.
Here's Maister's statement about his exhibit tight. word. lit.
This work explores narrative both implied and explicit; and narrative in the form of a past photographic action that, through a contemporary recontextualization and dialogic combination, is brought into the present.
The raw material for tight. word. lit. is snapshot photography. These images, from the 1980s onward — the last gasp of the analog snapshot — are overlooked in the current vogue for vernacular photography, which fetishizes the snapshot as art object (albeit an inadvertent one).
These "late" snapshots frequently betray little of the charm that characterize the genre at its zenith. I was drawn to images that might have been discarded by the picture-taker: those that are out of focus, inexpertly composed, blanched by a too-close flash, etc. In others, content or composition might be considered banal in their simplicity or apparent “artlessness.”
And in yet other selections, the performative nature of the subject matter — divorced from its context and rendered enigmatic, perplexing, or disturbing—was my departure point. But in all these variants, the series recontextualizes the nature and meaning of the snapshot: that object that serves as a commemorative artifact with a distinct function in the world.
It discards that function and meaning and allows the image to transform and to evoke a potential narrative event far from the intent of the original maker. The title of the series, tight. word. lit. similarly refers to recontextualization, but this time of vernacular language and slang, repurposing adjectives, nouns and verbs for utterances of approbation, enthusiasm, and affirmation.
Thus this work undermines the notion of the primacy of the individual image as a valuable artifact in and of itself, or even of the image as a signifier of a particular meaning or referent fixed in an identifiable past. Rather, it looks at the combination of photographic artifacts in dialogue with each other for its worth.
It is this that serves my goal: to rewrite these visual histories, making the viewer an active participant, forcing them to forge connections and create personal narratives that are compelling, mysterious and durable.
The world portrayed in these works is decidedly not our world. I hope they speak to us viscerally on some other level. They are intended to present us with a "third reality": not a document of their time, nor a document of ours.
These works are evocations of that interstitial space where past and present intersect and create an emotional, imaginative bridge into the subconscious, which should feel immediate yet also prescient.